As one of the three trails forming the Triple Crown of Hiking in the United States, there is no better long distance thru-hiking opportunity in the West than the legendary Pacific Crest Trail. Spanning right around 2,650 miles across the West Coast from Mexico to Canada this route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. Though the route lies in California, Oregon and Washington, a section of the PCT stretches through the eastern Sierra Nevada along Lake Tahoe’s western shore. Mostly avoiding civilization and towns altogether, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail promises scenic and pristine mountainous terrain with no roads, which can only be experienced through extended backpacking trips, or overnighters, or day hikes.
PCT Regions & Distances
Stretching across three states from Mexico to the Canadian border, the PCT is divided into regions. Plan to traverse 700 miles of deserts and mountain ranges in the southern California region, one of the world’s premier trail experiences in the Sierra Nevada and through the Lake Tahoe basin in the Central California stretch, through the Cascades in the northern California region, deep old growth forests and volcanoes in the Oregon region, and finally through the Columbia River Gorge and some of the country’s most lush rainforests in the Washington region.
The entire PCT is right around 2,650 miles long, but how long is the Pacific Crest Trail per state?
- California: 1,691 miles long
- Oregon: 455.2 miles long
- Washington: 505.7 miles long
Hike the Central California Region in the Eastern Sierra
Along with the Appalachian Trail, the PCT was made official by the National Trails System Act in 1968, and completed in its entirety by 1993. If thru hiking the entire route, most hikers travel from south to north, which takes between four and six months and requires devoted preparedness and dedication, planning for resupply points, carefully planned pack weight, and weather timing.
Though every region has remarkable natural features with bucket-list worthy items for every hiker around the globe, the Central California region of the PCT has a handful of famous landmarks like Mount Whitney, the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park and the Jewel of the Sierra—Lake Tahoe. Experience one of the world’s most famous trails as it wraps around one of the world’s most famous alpine lakes, as the PCT merges with the Tahoe Rim Trail and Desolation Wilderness with a multi-day backpacking trip, or even a short day hike.
Fees, Permits and Other Info to Know Before You Go
When camping and backpacking, visitors are required to bury human waste, pack out all garbage, and practice all Leave No Trace methods. For more information on backcountry basics, day hiking options, equestrian info, trail conditions, closures and permits, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Here, you can sign up for PCT emails, connect with their social channels, and get the lowdown on the most up to date info on planning your trek along the PCT.
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